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xi Foreword John Philip Newell jane blaffer owen ranks among the most beauti­ ful and wise women the modern world has known. I met her over ten years ago. She was already in her ­ mid-­ eighties. And I fell in love with her immediately , as have countless other men and women of every age and stage. Yes, she was beautiful physically as well as intellectually and emotionally. But it was the way she embodied vision that drew most of us to her. And we who love her have come from many, many disciplines, ranging from art and culture to science and religion. Carl Jung, the found­er of analytical psychology, said that the Spirit is a coniunctio oppositorum, a conjoining of what has been considered opposite : heaven and earth, spirit and matter, the feminine and the masculine, East and West, the night and the day, the unconscious and the conscious, the head and the heart, spirituality and sexuality, our individual stories and the one story, the story of the Universe. Jane Owen lived among us as a messenger of Spirit. She was forever weaving together what has been torn apart. Close to the heart of her vision is the Roofless Church of New Harmony . It has four defining walls but truly no roof. It is to me one of the most prophetic sites of prayer in the Western world. Over fifty years ago, well in advance of the ­ earth-­ awareness of today, Jane Owen saw that our sacred sites must not be cut off from the temple of the earth. Our places of prayer must not represent separateness from the other species and the other people of the world. The Roofless Church stands as an abiding testimony to this vision. The primary context of religion, and indeed of life itself , must be the great and living cathedral of earth, sea, and sky. If we are to be ­whole, we must come back into relationship with Creation. Jane Blaffer Owen with John Philip Newell. Photograph by Alison Erazmus, 2010. Foreword xiii On May 1, 2010, we rededicated the Roofless Church on the fiftieth anniversary of its consecration. It was as if Jane Owen, who died the next month at the age of ­ ninety-­ five, was determined to celebrate its jubilee, such was the significance of the church to her vision.1 The next day, in studying photographs of the celebration, I pointed out to her that she had been gazing around quite a bit during the pro­ cession, to which she replied , “I was just counting the number of people.” Jane Owen was forever passionate about continuing the vision. At the heart of the Roofless Church is her most cherished work of art Descent of the Holy Spirit (Notre Dame de Liesse) by Jacques Lipchitz.2 The sculpture is of the Spirit, in the shape of a dove, descending on an abstract divine feminine form that is opening to give birth. At one level Lipchitz is pointing to the story of Jesus, who was conceived by the Spirit in the womb of Mary. But at another level Lipchitz is pointing to the story of the Universe. Everything that has being has been conceived by the Spirit in the womb of the Universe. In other words, everything is sacred. This is the vision that guided Jane Owen to commit herself to reweaving the strands of life—between nations, between cultures, between religions, between any of the ­so-­called opposites that have tragically separated us in our lives and world. She knew the sacredness and the beauty of life. But never did she forget the brokenness and pain of life. At the other end of the Roofless Church is another sculpture, Pietà by Stephen De Staebler. It is a primitive, naked, feminine form. In her sides and feet are the nail marks of crucifixion. And her breast is split open to reveal the head of her crucified son emerging from within her. When our child suffers or when one we love is in agony, we experience their suffering not from afar but as coming from deep within us. Jane Owen knew such suffering in her family and life. She also knew, as De Staebler’s sculpture so powerfully communicates, that if there is to be real healing in our world, we must know the brokenness of other nations, other species, other families as part of our own brokenness. Jane’s countenance was beautiful. Yet it was a countenance that showed also deep sorrow...


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